Covid cases are likely to drop to around 15,000 to 25,000 a day by the end of June but if vaccinations are not ramped up significantly and precautions not maintained, a third wave of the virus is likely in six to eight months, a panel of experts has predicted.
Dr M Vidyasagar of the IIT Hyderabad, a member of the three-member group under the Science and Technology ministry mapping the trajectory of Covid based on mathematical models, says vaccinations need to be faster to make up for the loss of immunity.
"To a fairly large extent, the second wave was triggered - of course by people not following Covid protocol -- but also by the fact that people who developed immunity in the first wave saw their immunity erode," Dr Vidyasagar told NDTV.
"Recent scientific research suggests that people who have developed immunity will lose them after six to eight months. In the present wave, the number of people infected was 30 per cent more than in the first wave. Their immunity will erode in six-eight months. One rather obvious approach is to vaccinate people to compensate for the loss of immunity."
If inoculations could be done sufficiently fast, there could be a slight bump in cases after six to eight months but not as spectacular like the surge seen in the second wave, said the professor.
He said cases would significantly taper in June-July, according to the mathematical model his group had prepared.
"We expect by the end of June the number of cases will be in the low tens of thousands, like 15,000 to 25,000." That period could therefore be seen as the end of the second wave.
Dr Vidyasagar said the committee's projections had accounted for new virus variants.
"We need to vaccinate around 50 to 60 per cent of the adult population -- around 55 crore people. It is not entirely clear whether one dose is sufficient to ward off a third wave or both doses are required. If 100 crore doses are administered by January next year, it is barely good enough. Anything more is a bonus," he remarked.
India has seen a decline in coronavirus cases over the past few days but the number of deaths is worryingly high. The number of deaths dipped today from a record high on Wednesday.
The country reported over 2.76 lakh fresh cases in the last 24 hours and 3,874 deaths.
Dr Vidyasagar had earlier caused a flap when he suggested that the centre was given advance warning - on April 2 - of a surge in cases that would peak around the middle of May.